Opinion: Sam Onwuemeodo’s insults and wars against the Catholic church – By CYRIL ARIRIGUZO
I may not have bothered to comment or respond to a recent publication credited to Mr Sam Onwuemeodo the “busy body” Chief Press Secretary (CPS) to Governor Okorocha, the Imo state Governor, if not that the article was recklessly written in bad faith in an attempt to malign and denigrate the integrity and person of His Grace, Most Rev Dr. AJV Obinna, the Catholic Archbishop of Owerri Ecclesiastical Province.
As a concerned citizen, a journalist and a Catholic knight, it will be abnormal for me to keep quiet and watch the CPS exhibit sheer recklessness in the manner of attacks reeled against our spiritual father, the Archbishop. I know many people including non Catholics who have been following up political events in recent times in the state will agree with me that the CPS has persistently made a lot of provocative attacks on the Archbishop for no good reasons. Since it behoves on some of us as opinion moulders to correct, clarify and throw more light on the reading public the implication of such abnormal vituperations against a figure in the person of Archbishop AJV Obinna. It is therefore my humble wish to use this medium as one coming from the media to further advice the young man to pause a little and do stock taking of what his life may be after the 29th of May 2019. When a government media agent like Onwuemedo has resorted to attacking senior citizens and knowledgeable icons across religious, political and cultural divides for speaking out against social ills in the society, it is obvious he has lost touch with realities or things have started falling apart for his paymasters.
As I reflect on the various degrees of tantrums against the Archbishop, I have come to realise that Onwuemedo has forgotten that the Archbishop represents the millions of voiceless Catholics and non Catholics that make up the Imo society. To put it straight, Archbishop Obinna is the “Vicar of Christ” Watchman over the flocks of our Lord and Savour Jesus Christ, the Spiritual Director, and not a politician and does not belong to any political party as claimed by Onwuemedo. As a Spiritual father of all, his duties cut across counselling, preaching and teaching people to do the right things. The Archbishop represents the conscience of the downtrodden masses just like other religious leaders across the world who are known for speaking the truth when things go wrong in the society. In order words the Archbishop is a Prophet of God, the rallying point and hope for the helpless masses when politicians are on a mission to destroy the society. Also as a citizen of Imo state, he is equally a stakeholder and a custodian of good counsel and should be respected as a leader of high repute. God will hold him responsible if he doesn’t speak out against man’s inhumanity to fellow man as experienced in Imo state of today.
Governor Okorocha has been the highest beneficiary of the Archdiocese’s goodwill and benevolence as he rode on the platform of its organised governorship debate in 2011 to become the governor and thereafter in 2015, attacked and desecrated the altar of God and never allowed the debate to hold again. The church has continued to stomach all these insults conspiracies against its authorities maturely, using every possible platform to manage the embarrassment by enjoining the government to make amends and be serious as a responsive administration with the mandate to bring dividend of democracy to the people. But everything seems to have fallen on a deaf ear. Today Imo state is worse off and at the brink of due to insensitivity and highhandedness of the government and its agent like Onwuemeodo.
When Governor Okorocha took over the reins of government as governor in 2011 and further re-elected controversially in 2015, he promised to bring succour to the people, improve the quality of lives by embarking on people-oriented projects and creating jobs for the unemployed. This was equally reflected in his campaign mantra, Job, Job, factory, factory, Employment, Employment. The hard truth today is that virtually no job has been created, or factory sited anywhere in Imo by Okorocha or attracted any one to the state even with all the several foreign trips. Governor Okorocha from the look of things may be short of ideas on resolving myriad of problems bedevilling the State from his body language. He earlier confessed to have known poverty and its consequences on homes. According to him, the government does not believe in primitive accumulation of wealth and stealing of public funds but what happened to our monthly N4-6Billion statutory allocations for close to eight years now with no local government area at work? Let us believe he has done everything possible that he knows to better the economy, and yet nothing meaningful seems to have been seen. While he claimed to have kept his campaign promise to Imolites he is yet to prove how he has improved lives of Imo people. This is why he seems to be fighting everybody perhaps using un-tactical Onwuemeodo
We are continuously told that there is no money and the situation has been the reason for the crippled development and business in the State, thus generating despair among the populace including public servants and members of the informal sector who depend on their patronage for survival. I pity Imo people so much because their future appears to have been mortgaged by the political actors. Hard times are certainly around for the people. Imo is in trouble because its economy is in shambles. We are reliably informed that the bailout fund which was an aid package, released by the Federal government that was promised to be used to stabilized the affected states economies has run into deep sand, just like a drop of water in the desert. Did the funds developed wings and disappeared and did not impact on the economy not to talk of alleviating the problems of Imo State? A series of disbursement, States like ours are back to square one, even trapped deeper in the vortex of insolvency.
The government has continued to defend itself explaining that the bailout fund and the monthly allocation were not enough to take care of the Imo wage bill. What a crap? Many believed the government has not been sincere and challenged the government to publish the account of the disbursement of the bailout. Many including Imo Newspaper Publishers have argued that the handling of the bailout fund is shrouded in secrecy and unexplainable recklessness by the government. As at today no publication has been made to capture the true position of things on the bailout disbursements in Imo state. No one can say for sure if the funds were actually channelled to paying workers salaries and pension as provided. The big question is how was the bailout fund used? Did the CBN ensure the proper utilization of the money as its provider? What was the actual debt burden of the State before and now? How much was paid and how much is remaining? If the bailout was not enough, what happened to our statutory monthly allocation which has not ceased to come till date? Is Imo State not receiving full allocation with alleged N400 million as deductions from our overall debts? Is what is left not enough to pay workers salaries and still carter for other meaningful development? Is Imo State not generating 1GR again? The use of oil price plethora to make excuses for failure is a story too old like tortoise feeble and is bad for our leadership. Such reoccurring decimal may be a calculated diversionary tactics to sweep the real issues surrounding proper accountability of the bailout fund and our monthly allocation under the carpet Who is fooling who on the matter?
What happened to the billions of naira the former Gov Ohakim left in the treasury or have they developed wing?Sources from the federal Ministry of finance seem to indicate that Imo State may have collected close to N900 Billion from the federation account as allocation for close to eight years and few months under the watchful eye of Governor Okorocha, and still the centre cannot hold and yet someone is claiming innocent and want to sacrifice our Archbishop for speaking out. Governor Okorocha’s policy of building monuments, hasty demolition of markets, roads and squares has not grown Imo economy and cannot be used as reason for not giving us economic dividend. The government seems to have failed to utilize the allocations properly and also could not provide jobs for its unemployed or create platforms to stimulate and grow business and nothing more. It is therefore my hope that when Imo people will be approaching the polling unit again in 2019 it will be with the mindset of righting the wrongs visited on them by a gang of politically ill-equipped people. Imo people have seen “pepper” and it is obvious why they will continue to support Archbishop Obinna to speak out. Imo people are paying dearly for felling to use their votes well, when a decent and reputable Rt Hon Emeka Ihedioha offered to serve them. If Hon Ihedioha had emerged as the governor, Imo State would have not been in this mess. The ripple effect of good governance would have been evident and Imo people, pensioners and workers would not have received the kind of humiliation they are receiving today. Our people have seen the difference now and only time and God Almighty will help us and the Archbishop to dislodge the cabal holding the state in terrible bondage. I therefore advise Onwuemeodo to refrain from these ungodly and mundane attacks, while trying to justify your monthly salary. You should know where the red lines are and stop.